Sunday, October 29, 2006

Review: Hugh Laurie on Saturday Night Live

I was still chuckling the next day over the sight of Hugh Laurie, who stands nearly six-foot-three, in drag, wearing a super short skirt and three-inch-spike heels, jumping onto a hospital bed during a skit on Saturday Day Night live the night of Ocotober 28. It was so silly, and Hugh seemed to be having a good time. It was very much more British than some of the other skits (drag is standard British comic fare); maybe that's why he seemed relaxed.

I am no fan of SNL, never even watched it in its heyday. I only watched this episode because Hugh Laurie was hosting, and I must say, it wasn't all that amusing, even with Hugh. How do they write this show? They have writers, I know. But do the guests get to collaborate? In a way, I hope not, because the opening monologue was unexceptional, and I know Hugh can do better (he co-wrote his hit comedy sketch series with partner Stephen Fry, A Bit of Fry and Laurie, after all). The monologue had a few humorous moments, like when Hugh was trying to explain he was from England and could he please have a map to point it out, and they rolled out a map of the United States. But his calling the audience "Sweet Cheeks" made me wince. It was a pale imitation of what he and Stephen Fry once did at a benefit concert, where they called the huge (tens of thousands) audience "Colin." (Colin seemed to be their amusing generic name for anyone and anything, and it was much handier to name that large a crowd that the 100 or so who fit in the studio of SNL.)

Anyway, Hugh, who seemed genuinely embarrassed by the huge response of the crowd when he was introduced, got through the monologue. The first sketch up afterward, of ghost busters thinking a fart was a communication from the afterlife, was a clever joke that went on too long. The skit of Hugh being the guy who travels ahead of the Queen and makes all her strange demands known wasn't very comical to me, but Hugh did so much better than the woman in the skit with him. He sang his song "All We Have to Do" nicely and even elicited a laugh from my husband, but he did it much better on ABOFAL, where it first appeared. During the drag sketch, though, Hugh seemed to hit his stride, and he gave an energetic performance in the last skit, even though it was a pretty unfunny shtick about lawyers who make strange noises when happy.

Overall, I think Hugh Laurie acquitted himself well and proved he hasn't lost his comic chops. (He really is game, having also done Inside the Actor's Studio this year, as well as playing a silly game about etiquette on Ellen Degeneres' show.) SNL, however, blew its chance with me, an infrequent viewer who could have been convinced to watch more often. How it continues to go on and produce successful spin offs is beyond me.

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